About the author MK Kim
For the past 30 years, MK has been a prominent life coach in South Korea, engaging audiences through corporate lectures, best-selling books, and shows broadcasted on national television. Through all these mediums, MK has imparted solace and solutions to adults navigating life. As the creator of the YouTube channel “MKTV”, a community with almost two million subscribers, and as the representative of a vibrant 180,000-member-strong online knowledge community known as “MKYU,” MK has established herself as a prominent life coach to all.
There are numerous accolades that follow MK, reflecting her impact of many decades. Starting her lectures at the age of 29, she coached millions of people for over thirty years. Yet, until her mid-forties, MK remained relatively nameless. Despite her efforts, she experienced more failures than successes for the first fifteen years of her career as a life coach, earning less than what she invested.
However, with the launch of her TV show, “The MK Kim Show,” and after authoring bestselling books in Korea such as “A Wife with Dreams Doesn’t Age” and “Candid Talk Between Sisters,” success finally embraced MK in the latter half of her forties. The failures of her past became the stepping stones to creating a truly fulfilling life after turning forty. This book is a compilation of insights gained during this time, offering reflections on MK’s own fourth decade and interpreting life in an era where people live to be a hundred.
The challenges MK faced in her forties enabled her to dream even in her sixties – her newest dream was to debut in America, lecturing in English. In 2021, her book “Reboot” was released simultaneously in the U.S. and Korea, becoming an Amazon bestseller. This was the result of a relentless pursuit of her dreams.
MK hopes that everyone will be able to experience their forties as one of the most radiant periods of their life.
Table of Contens
THAT’S GOOD ENOUGH.
YOU’RE ALL RIGHT.
I recently rediscovered an old photograph I had forgotten about. It was a snapshot taken when I was in my mid-thirties. Back then, I thought I was reaching the peak of adulthood, but when I see it now, I look so young and carefree. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia seeing a younger version of myself in my office, flashing a confident smile. As I reminisced, a long-forgotten memory came flooding back.
“MK, office renovation costs came out to be a fortune. We’rerunning short on funds this month for our employees’ salaries, and I’m considering raising your lecture fees. I’m really worried,” said
my then-assistant, who is now my vice president, with a concerned expression. We had recently expanded our office, and it came with a price tag. My lecture fee was a mere $200 per hour back then, and it was no small feat to cover the salaries of three employees.
“I can’t just suddenly raise my fees. What else can we do?”
“You’ll have to go viral and become more famous or something. The general public, not just corporate training centers, needs to recognize MK Kim.”
Why did a conversation from over two decades ago suddenly resonate so vividly? In the photo, I am smiling brightly, but in reality, I was anxious and uncertain. At the time, I was a relatively unknown corporate trainer who had never written a book or appeared on television. Despite traveling all over the country every day, I earned barely enough money. Yet instead of working alone to cut costs like other trainers, I decided to start a company, secure an office, and hire employees. It was my very own dream platform, but I found myself worrying about interior decoration expenses and employee salaries.
I can’t help but wonder how things might have been if I had taken snapshots of my forties like this. As a working mom with one kid in middle school, one in elementary school, and an infant, I was plagued by feelings of inadequacy and guilt every single day. Though I worked multiple jobs, the money just wouldn’t add up.
I can still vividly recall how distraught I felt after renting a new house that depleted all our savings, and the burden of supporting my parents, who always relied on me. All these scenes are as vivid as
photographs even now. My forties were marked by struggles and daily anxiety, with no accomplishments to speak of.
During those rare moments when I had some time to myself, I would find myself contemplating the choices I had made. Why had I chosen such challenging paths? Why did I opt for choices that others seemed to avoid? Was there any way I could flee from it all?
Before our thirties end, we make some of life’s most important choices — work, marriage, parenthood, you name it. During that time, we’re so caught up in making those decisions that we hardly have time to contemplate the stage we’re setting for ourselves or the future ahead.
It’s not until we cross the threshold into our forties that we begin to see the grand design of our life take shape.
This design is three-dimensional and far more intricate than we ever imagined. It starts with the placement of family members, something we had no control over. Then we layer on our choices — spouse, kids, career, money. Events we never chose suddenly get slotted in.
Maybe a child falls seriously ill, your parents’ business hits a rough patch, or your spouse loses their job. Life presents us with unforeseen circumstances that we’re forced to accept. Your own decisions, both wise and not so wise, start stacking up.
During our twenties and thirties, we make countless choices, either to survive or to pursue our dreams. By the time we hit our forties, these choices finally start connecting the dots of our life’s grand design. This is when the melancholy and sadness of middle age truly set in.
One thing becomes crystal clear: you can’t simply remove any piece from this design. Pull one thing out, and the whole structure tilts. While you’re focused on one aspect, another weakens. Money and work, family and dreams — they’re all intricately connected, and it’s not easy to tell what to take out and what to leave. That’s why, when you hit your forties, you might feel hopelessly trapped. The questions I often asked myself back then were “Is this the right path?” “Do others struggle as much as I do?” “Is it worth all this effort for something better in the future?”
Looking back, I now realize the questions that kept bugging me were the foundations for the first draft of my life blueprint. As someone who has already passed through their forties, I can say with
confidence that the way to draft this blueprint is to adopt an “anything goes” mentality. You have to be convinced that you will become something, anything. I was the star of my own show, and depending on how I played my role, my future plotline could change.
Therefore, you need to start making some real choices. Do we criticize our forties and sit there feeling cold and grumpy? Or do we embrace this time and steer it in the direction we want? Many people in their forties tend to get lost right here. They think the canvas is too big for their tiny brushes, and the span of the canvas overwhelms them. And that’s when you start wasting time on regrets, dwelling on the past.
The only one who can craft this story and star in the stage production is you. Take out one element — work, money, family — and you go with it. Your blueprint is basically you. As long as you’re
around, your life’s issues aren’t going anywhere.
Around my mid-forties, I figured it out. I made a vow to love my life’s blueprint as much as I loved myself. That’s when I started using the word “passion.” I had no fuel but myself, so the only way
to go was to turn up the heat. If my thirties were an unremarkable 140 degrees, my forties needed to be a blazing two hundred.
This is when I started living in a twenty-four-hour mode. I grabbed every opportunity, no matter how small. I solved countless problems, and in the process, I became my own teacher. My very own “MK Kim Growth Manual” got written, one chapter at a time. When I had goals to achieve, I woke up at the crack of dawn. When the money wasn’t rolling in, I devoured books to secure my future. Most of the “MK Kim Growth Manual” was crafted during my forties. Those pages I wrote came in handy, and they carried me right into my fifties.
As I entered my late forties, I was becoming a speaker that people recognized. Word started spreading in the lecture circuit, and before I knew it, I was giving regular talks on TV. I even became a best-selling author and hosted my own talk show. People began calling me a “role model women want to be like” and “Korea’s leading female mentor.”
But despite all my hard work in my forties, only about half of life’s problems had been solved. My kids were only halfway grown, my career was only halfway there, and I had only about half of the money I’d need to support me until age one hundred. My self-esteem was halfway up, too. It might sound absurd, but that’s the way life goes. All the problems in our lives pop up at their own pace.
Just because you turn forty-nine doesn’t mean everything gets resolved at once. Just as there are various roles and tasks to juggle in the mere twenty-four hours of the day, not everything can be squeezed into your forties. Let go of the idea that everything has to be figured out by then.
In your fifties, you’ll find you can solve many things even better. It was in my fifties that I experienced the joy of taking my career up a notch and creating content that was truly me.
It was not until my late fifties that I established a YouTube channel with 1.73 million subscribers called MKTV and started communicating with fans worldwide, discussing learning and growth.
A few years back, I founded MKYU (MK&YOU University), an online university where over eighty thousand Korean women in their thirties to fifties are pursuing education in the midst of the digital transformation era. We’ve developed various educational programs to help middle-aged women regain their self-esteem and find their own dreams, such as our Miracle Morning program, which draws thousands of participants every month.
In my fifties, I transitioned from being a famous lecturer to the CEO of a company, achieving wealth and fame and fulfilling my mission. If I had tried to get here in my forties, I would have stumbled
and made mistakes, trying to force things that weren’t ready to happen yet.
If you put your heart and soul into creating your very own growth manual in your forties, your fifties will be smoother sailing, and you’ll tackle problems with more finesse. Trust the more mature version of yourself in your fifties to handle half of those issues.
“It’s okay. This is enough. Let’s just do half. That’s still good enough.”
This is a mantra I used to tell my forties self quite often. Life can throw problems our way that seem bigger than our love and passion for life itself. There are days when you might suddenly feel like calling it quits. In those moments, move away from anxiety, move away from greed, and think about solving just half of the problem. Be gentle with yourself and even the small victories become worth celebrating. Give yourself some space to breathe, and you’ll find the courage to start anew on your dreams.
Of course, it’s not always easy to grasp these truths in your forties. It’s in your fifties that everything becomes clearer. And that’s exactly why I wrote this book: to shed light on things you might not realize until after you’ve passed that milestone, and to give you the confidence boost you need about those things you know vaguely but aren’t sure of.
If there’s an age I could revisit, it’s my forties. I want to go back in time to shower myself with some well-deserved comfort and praise. Life was grueling, and I was hard on myself.
So this book is for all those in their forties out there. I hope to warmly embrace those feeling tired, give a nudge to those on the brink of giving up, and not mince words with those who feel like throwing in the towel. I hope to treat your forties as if they were mine — with genuine care.
Now, let’s embark on a special life lesson just for you. At the end of each decade, you’ll find yourself loving and cherishing yourself even more. With the skills you’ve gained from solving half of life’s problems, you’ll be able to make your post-forties life just as happy. Your forties are the time when your real life truly begins.
- MK Kim, December 2023
A Time to Thrive
Lived diligently, but facing uncertainties once more?
A desire to embrace challenges persists, even if it feels late.
In your forties, a continual journey of improvement unfolds daily.
In the Power of Forty, MK Kim dissects the classic “mid-life crisis” offering much-needed help to those who despair when they should be looking forward to the second half of their lives. Armed with her typical candor and charm, MK displays her famous sense and sensibility. A triumph of a book.
- Mauro F. Guillén, bestselling author of The Perennials
When I was in my forties, I remember lonely, middle-of-the-night moments of shaking my fist at the sky for landing me in alien territory with no vision and no guidance. I actually prayed for a map. Looking back on that time, I can say that this book is the map I was seeking. And I’m happy MK Kim is making this incredible resource available to a new generation of forty-somethings who will not have to navigate alone. I’m already thinking about the younger women with whom I will share it!
- Laurie Mulvey, Clinical Professor in Sociology, Penn State University
MK is a brilliant inspiration. Rarely have I met a person who so consistently and effectively reinvents herself and grows her success and impact in the process. I consider myself lucky to learn from her and call her a friend. What may be most impressive is that MK not only taught herself English after turning fifty, but is now an international motivational speaker sharing her message in English.
- Jon Levy, New York Times Best Seller You're Invited, Behavioral scientist,founder of The Influencers
The Power of Forty is a thoughtful and compassionate book about one of the most dynamic periods of a woman’s life.
- Emily Esfahani Smith, Author of The Power of Meaning